Ian Brown at Cambridge Corn Exchange, Saturday October 20

Review by ELIZABETH DONNELLY AS the bar filled with Liam Gallagher look-a-likes, 30 year-old men sporting shaggy haircuts and Adidas jackets, a sense of excitement and anticipation could be felt in the air. The crowd was moments away from breathing the sa

Review by ELIZABETH DONNELLY

AS the bar filled with Liam Gallagher look-a-likes, 30 year-old men sporting shaggy haircuts and Adidas jackets, a sense of excitement and anticipation could be felt in the air. The crowd was moments away from breathing the same air as the winner of NME's Godlike Genius Award, lead singer of The Stone Roses turned solo artist, Ian Brown.

The venue's decision to play Joy Division's Transmission was greeted with a unanimous roar of appreciation. We were entering Manchester.

From a blackout on stage, as if flicking on the stadium lights at Old Trafford, suddenly the unmistakable outline of Brown's primate bone structure was illuminated on the drum kit. The god was in the house.


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The set opened with the first track on the Roses debut album, I wanna be adored, and he was. There was never any doubt that the iconic band's tracks would go down well. Clearly there were some avid Roses fans in the audience who had come just in case he played some old material.

And yet, Brown gave every track anthem-like status, and it was this self belief that made his performance so bewitching.

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He began with his trademark ape-like march on the spot, shaking his tambourine, and then thrusting it over the front row of the audience, as if sprinkling holy water. This messianic theme was later reinstated with the Stone Roses' track I am the Resurrection. But he was not the "no-one, nowhere, washed up," of which the song sings. His solo material was just as well received as the older tunes; the audience was enchanted by the memorable Time Is My Everything, with its identifiable trumpet solo and mesmerised by F.E.A.R (For Everything a Reason).

Brown has been criticised for his vocal ability and even been labelled tuneless, but this really did not seem to matter, even if at times he strayed musically, he made up for this with undiluted energy and commitment to the crowd.

-Who here's from Cambridge Uni?

(A show of hands)

-Well done. Nice one!

And in return the crowd went "mad for it".

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